Elephants, Berlin mist, summer fires.
A song, or even the title of an entire album, can be born from two words written by pen on a sheet of paper. The history of Sentimentale Jugend began this way. Reading “Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” I had discovered that Vera Christiane Felscherinow had formed an experimental noise band with Alexander Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten, named exactly that way. The linguistic infatuation caught me immediately. At the time I was working for a well-known Italian company, and my job was to open complaint letters with a letter opener, and insert them in a database with the assistance of an infrared scanner. It was a humble job, terrible and repetitive. But it gave me the possibility of spending time by myself in an isolated room. I had a desk, two portable speakers to which I had attached my iPod, an old computer, and approximately 20.000 letters to be catalogued, crammed into forty yellow plastic cases. I wrote down the words “Sentimentale Jugend” for the first time on the back side of one of the open envelopes on the table. It was the summer of 2008. Just in Case We’ll Never Meet Again had just been released, but in my mind the follow-up had unconsciously already been born. An embryo of letters and ink, transcribed on a Moleskine. Musically speaking, it was clear from the start that our objective would have been to create songs with the same fascinating imagery. Sentimentale Jugend to my ears was evocative of the vibrant and nihilistic West Berlin of the late 70’s described by David Bowie in Low, Heroes e Lodger; but also the wintry and misty Berlin of Friedrichshain and Lichtenberg, perfectly portrayed in “The Lives Of Others”, by Von Donnersmark. I wanted to write music that contained the same melancholic and intense expressions of Christa-Maria Sieland, the protagonist of that film. A memorable character that has inhabited my dreams and thoughts throughout the last few years. We worked for six years, chewing the melodies slowly. Ruminating like damn cows grazing on a plateau. When I imagine Klimt 1918, I always think of large, slow animals. Pachyderms that proceed inexorably, through adversities and rough weather, clueless of the passing of time. We were elephants, in our tiny practice room, weeknights after work. Tired, often confrontational. But always focused, ready to experiment. We were elephants in Claudio Spagnoli’s studio, an underground garage buried beneath a huge apartment complex in the east outskirts of Rome, where there was no cell phone signal, and connecting to the Internet was not an option. Shut out from the world, humid, we completely immersed ourselves in what we were doing. Underground elephants, with an indefinite number of guitars, amplifiers, obsolete instruments, analog and digital effects. An audio-logic nest, that we left only to eat pizza by the slice, sitting on a bench in the small park across from the studio. And while we rested, immersed among the linden trees in bloom, at night, we realized we had lost count of the years it took us to be satisfied of what we had in our hands. Years of red herrings and tall grass, that we walked through in a single line, one’s trunk attached to another’s tail. Spurred by Berlin-Branderburg inspirations, but intimately African. Mediterranean. If I would have to describe “Sentimentale” and “Jugend” with an image, it would be a vast summer night fire. One of those fires that spread out, malicious, that rage through Italy in August. Sky-high flames, broken up by the wind in millions of golden sparks. The blazing particles that challenge the deep sea-blue sky, and lose themselves somewhere, in the sunburnt fields, ready to unleash new fires. They are distinct albums, connected not by a concept, but by a sonic impression, a stylistic choice. Albums made of smoke and scorching wood. Rarefied and blistering. Acrid and nostalgic, like the smell of burnt leaves carried from miles away, at night, when people sleep with their windows wide open, and the breeze sweeps through the rooms, pulling along impressions of distant things.
The sound: Dirty, black, pop music We wanted an acid and dark sound, low fi by choice, and not too readily clear and understandable. We asked ourselves how it would have been to terrorize our pop inclinations with less reassuring sounds, darkened by noises, explosions, gloomy feedback. As if the Cocteau Twins and the Chameleons had the corrosive sound of Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger. The more we went in that direction, the more we noticed that those ‘dirty’ imperfections made our songs cinematic and three-dimensional; dreamy, but with a sinister and murky stride. In “La Notte”, there is a break where the synthesizers sound almost menacing. In the beginning I was terrified by the idea of using synths in our songs, but then Francesco showed up with a monophonic Korg. We attached it to the guitar amp and recorded it with microphones, just like a damn guitar. Distorted, reverberated, and then again distorted and reverberated, its sound transformed into that of a strange, eerie string instrument. It was the symbol of our new direction: melancholic, deep, glacial.
The influences: It is not a mystery that Klimt 1918 are infatuated with the shoegaze sound, dream pop and new wave from the 80’s and 90’s. What instead represents a new element compared to the past, are influences coming from 50’s and 60’s pop, from which we were inspired by the approach to the instruments (guitar reverbs, the use of tremolo, wind instruments, three beats drum style - Kick-Kick-Kick Snare). The style of Sentimentale Jugend could be summed
up as a sort of very dirty and noisy three beats dream pop. Anyway, this is a list of bands that influenced us in this album: The Chameleons, Glasvegas, A Place to Bury Strangers, iLikeTrains, Cocteau Twins, The Ronettes, U2, Chaperhouse, The Raveonettes, The Drifters, Sophia, Cocteau Twins, Breathless, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Everly Brothers, The Platters, Sigur Ros, Radio Dept, Dead Can Dance
Upward trails: determination, love, the passing of time.
Contrarily to what it might seem, we hadn’t imagined Sentimentale Jugend as two separate chapters. We simply worked on our songs, without any specific project. In the meantime our lives changed: work, temporary employment, and unemployment, have the power of stealing your life! There was a moment when we couldn’t find the time for band practice. It was a very ‘working class’ moment, that we are not embarrassed about. In the meantime, I never stopped writing, and songs kept growing like pages in a diary. They were there in my head, stored like a pile of unread books. When we started working on them, they were twenty. Some had been around for years. They were insurmountable obstacles, discussed and sometimes argued over. Others convinced us immediately, and were ready to be recorded in an afternoon. In any case there were many songs, too many. We tried to make a selection for a definitive tracklist. But then we realized that every song held a memory of these ‘almost-ten years’ of work. We envisaged the idea of a double album, or a simultaneous double release. We had enough material to accept this challenge, but we didn’t realize what that would mean in the studio. At least not immediately. Only after the recording sessions began, we realized that Sentimentale Jugend would have been the highest point of our career, and at the same time our most terrible one. A steep mountain trail, full of rocks, avalanches, snow, blizzards. But a peak from which to gaze out to a breathtaking panorama. It took two years. Two fucking years. Recording on weekends, during rest days, and summer holidays. Recording at night, after nine hours at the office. Sentimentale Jugend is the sound of determination and our love of music. It may sound excessive and emphatic to say it, but it’s the truth. We could not have finished this work in these conditions, without loving each and every one of these songs. The tracklists of each album were decided spontaneously, because there are no major differences between the albums. The songs found each other following paths and modes of emotion and divination. Always without a set project, without prog tendencies, without esoteric concepts hidden behind the titles. We only knew we wanted Montecristo to be the opener of Sentimentale, the least suitable song to start an album. A slow, rarefied, and repetitive track, with one of the most troubled gestations. We thought it would have been nice and paradoxical to return like this, in a startling way, with a song influenced by Dead Can Dance, that takes seven minutes to get into gear. We told ourselves: “these damn riffs are the symbol of these ten years of silence. They are as slow as Klimt 1918 have been. They are our Manifesto!”.
Montecristo Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Comandante Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
La Notte Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
It Was To Be Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Belvedere Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Once We Were Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Take My Breath Away Music/Lyrics by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock Sentimentale Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Gaza Youth (Exist/Resist) Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Nostalghia Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Fracture Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Ciudad Lineal Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Sant’Angelo (The Sound & The Fury) Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner Unemployed & Dreamrunner Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner The Hunger Strike Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Resig-nation Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Caelum Stellatum Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Juvenile Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Stupenda e Misera Città Music by Francesco Paolo Conte, Lyrics taken from Pier Paolo Pasolini “Il pianto della scavatrice”, 1956
Lycans Music/Lyrics by Marco Soellner
Recorded by Claudio Spagnuoli at Oz Record Studio, Rome
Mixed by Claudio Spagnuoli and Klimt1918 at Oz Record Studio, Rome
Additional mixing by Claudio Spagnuoli, Alessandro Di Nunzio and Klimt1918 at NMG Recording Studio, Palestrina Extra synth/drone and choirs recorded by Francesco Conte at The Shelter Room, Rome
Mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music, New Windsor (NY)
All lyrics by Marco Soellner *except “Take my breath away” by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock, 1986
and “Stupenda e misera città” taken from “Il pianto della scavatrice” by Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1956
All songs written by Marco Soellner *except “Take my breath away” by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock, 1986 and “Stupenda e misera città” by Francesco Conte
Trumpet, trombone and flugelhorn by Alessandro Ciccarelli
Choirs on “Juvenile” by Isabella Cananà
Spoken words on “Stupenda e misera città” by Max Alto
Vocals on “Lycans” by Simone Salvatori
Pictures by Alessio Albi (cover & pages 4, 5, 26, 27)
Picture by Marco Soellner (page 31), pictures by Paolo Soellner (pages 20, 24, 42, 44)
Art Direction and Design by Paolo & Marco Soellner
I Klimt 1918 nascono nel 1999 per idea dei fratelli Marco e Paolo Soellner, dopo lo scioglimento degli Another Day, il loro precedente gruppo death metal.
La formazione si completa con Davide Pesola (basso) e Francesco Tumbarello (chitarra solista) e nel 2000 viene pubblicato Secession Makes Post-Modern Music . Il demo riceve ottime recensioni e cattura le attenzioni della My Kingdom Music, una nuova etichetta indipendente italiana, con cui il gruppo firma un contratto per due album.
Il primo full-lenght Undressed Momento, esce nel 2003 e durante la registrazione Francesco Tumbarello lascia la band per essere sostituito da Alessandro Pace, nome molto conosciuto nell'underground metal della capitale. Il disco rappresenta un'evoluzione nel sound, più melodico e emozionale, riceve ottimi responsi dalla stampa di tutta Europa e raggiunge la prima posizione della Orkus Top Chart.
Nel 2005 viene pubblicato Dopoguerra , per l'etichetta tedesca di culto Prophecy Productions. Tra settembre e ottobre 2006 Alessandro Pace lascia il gruppo e da Francesco Conte fa il suo ingresso nella formazione. Il seguito di Dopoguerra, Just in Cause We'll Never Meet Again (Soundtrack for the Cassette Generation), è stato pubblicato il 20 giugno 2008 in Germania e il 23 e 24 giugno nel resto del mondo e negli USA.
Tra marzo e aprile 2009 la band rilascia il video di "Ghost of a Tape Listener", il loro primo video ufficiale. Contemporaneamente rilasciano anche la versione in vinile del terzo album e un EP di 3 pezzi di cui uno inedito intitolato "Blackeberg 1981".
Dopo otto anni i Klimt 1918 tornano con il loro ultimo progetto, “Sentimentale Jugend”, in uscita il 2 dicembre in tutto il mondo.
“Sentimentale Jugend”, per gli intenditori della scena underground, è un titolo già di per sé evocativo: richiamando l’omonimo progetto sperimentale di Alexander Hacke (Einstürzende Neubauten) e Christiane Flescherinow, meglio conosciuta come Christiane F. (dal libro bestseller, “Noi ragazzi dello zoo di Berlino”), i Klimt 1918 presentano il loro ultimo lavoro.
Un album maturo, che segue, a otto anni di distanza "Just In Case We'll Never Meet Again”, portando alla luce una Berlino ormai lontana, immortalandone pulsazioni, battiti e quella gloria puramente nichilistica tipica degli anni 70 e tanto cara anche al Bowie di “Low”, “Heroes” e “Lodger”. Non è un caso, infatti, che nell’ascoltare “Sentimentale Jugend” si abbia la percezione di essere trasportati in qualche scena di “Le vite degli altri”, film vincitore del premio Oscar e in cui le nebbiose giornate berlinesi fanno da protagoniste (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006).
“Sentimentale Jugend” è composto da venti brani, suddivisi in due album distinti: Sentimentale (9 brani, 54 minuti) e Jugend (10 brani, 53 minuti). Durante questi 107 minuti di ascolto, si intrecciano sapientemente energia e auree sognanti, tratti shoegaze ed elementi che spaziano dall’indie al new wave degli anni 80 e 90, combinati con nuovi suoni più distorti, volutamente cupi e acidi. “Volevamo terrorizzare la nostra vena pop con sonorità poco rassicuranti, sporcate da rumori ed esplosioni”, raccontano i ragazzi.
Il risultato è eccelso; un lavoro consapevole, che non dimentica la vena dream pop del gruppo, ma la reinventa sotto nuove forme e con nuove sonorità provenienti dal pop degli anni 50 e 60. Nell’approccio stumentistico, infatti, risalta l’uso di riverberi delle chitarre, del tremolo, degli strumenti a fiato, three beats drum style-Kick-Kick-Kick Snare.
L’album contiene una serie di influenze quali: The Chameleons, Glasvegas, A Place to Bury Strangers, iLikeTrains, Cocteau Twins, The Ronettes, U2, Chapterhouse, The Raveonettes, The Drifters, Cocteau Twins, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Everly Brothers, The Platters, Sigur Ros, Radio Dept, Dead Can Dance.
Con la formazione completa, i Klimt 1918 torneranno sul palco l’8 dicembre 2016, in occasione del concerto di presentazione del loro ultimo lavoro, al Quirinetta di Roma.